I’m linking up with Jen at Teacher by the Beach again for Monday Motivation!
Today is all about Word Walls.
I had a Word Wall way way way back in the beginning of my career when I was in a different district. My room was the size of a shoe box. And so I used a STAPLE GUN to put my word wall up on a cinder block wall. It stayed up for four years and I bought the words from Carson Dellosa or some such place. I had no clue whatsoever how to use a computer. And I’m not kidding. Want to know how I used clip art to make things cute?
Are you ready for this?
I had a BINDER filled with black and white images of cute clip art (cute is a stretch) and I made a copy of the clip art I wanted on the copier and then I CUT IT OUT AND GLUED IT ONTO THE EXISTING WORKSHEET THAT I WAS TRYING TO CUTE-SIFY.
This is a true story. I’m keeping it 100 as the Bachelorette would say.
Fast forward four years and I moved districts. I had a Word Wall in my brand new gigantic classroom, too.
Things were getting a little cuter and then one day, my team and I decided Word Walls were OUT. Goodbye.
So then I didn’t have a Word Wall for years.
And then I brought it back.
Back and Forth.
Here and there.
Change my mind.
Here it is a few years ago:
Oh my word look how pretty. The boxes were made with RIBBON. That’s because my teammate, Heather, has amazing ideas and I always have to copy her and she always raises the bar. RIBBON?! I remember saying. RIBBON?! This is going to be a nightmare! And it was. The measuring and the cutting and the stapling just about killed me. It hurt my brain. When I was finally finished, I said I am never ever taking this down, not ever, I am going to die in my classroom as an old lady right on top of that counter and my last words will be Don’t let the new teacher who gets my room ever take this down. Promise me! And I would not take my last breath until everyone promised me.
Even this Word Wall went through several changes. I changed the circles a few times. I couldn’t decide on fonts/colors and changed it until I was happy. And then the actually words (see all three? go, on, the) also changed several times as I tried to find the right font/color combo, as well. Look how far I’ve come from the BINDER OF CLIP ART.
Once again, I’m keeping it 100 with you all.
I’m pretty sure, like absolutely almost positive, that the words go, on, and the were the only sight words added to my board until it was time for Open House in May, and then I was a mad woman putting up the rest so the parents would think I was a good teacher, and so it looked like I kept up on things, and like my students knew sight words.
When my kids walked in the day after I did this, they were FLOORED. Whoa, they all said. Wow, they all said. Where did these come from, they all said.
Luckily, we worked on sight words all year so they knew the words as I quickly quizzed them and asked them to read all the T words or all of the W words, etc. I mean, it had been almost an entire school year so of course they knew their sight words.
I toyed around with the idea of just keeping all of those sight words up for the following year, but then I was like no, that’s really not how you’re supposed to do it, do it the right way, add them as you teach them. You can do this. You are capable.
So the following year, I got all cute and I typed my kids’ names out and hung those up on the word wall for the beginning of the year. The kids LOVED seeing their names up there. I was like Gosh, I’m amazing. I should win an award of some kind. And by award, I mean candy bar.
As you know, those student names stayed up pretty much all year until Open House rolled around again . . . and then I was that same madwoman hanging up all the sight words and my kids did the exact same thing as the last year’s kids did.
Whoa, they all said. Wow, they all said. Where did these come from, they all said.
Ay yi yi.
So then I did the unthinkable.
I TOOK DOWN MY WORD WALL.
I KNOW!!! And I wasn’t even dead yet!
I changed it to this: A Writing Menu
Each poster had a number and that number was on the basket. Inside the basket was whatever the poster said. So, for example, Basket 1 had stencils and paper to go with it. Basket 2 had How-To cards and paper and so on. I introduced each basket one at a time and by the time we got to the end of the school year, we made it to Basket 9.
Keeping it 100.
After having this Writing Menu for almost a year, it dawned on me that it was kind of wasted space. It wasn’t like my kids were using anything on the wall to help them write. After brainstorming with my teammates, I finally came up with Writing Center Reference Posters. I transitioned my bulletin board in late April and as soon as my kids saw the new board, they were ALL OVER IT.
I’m telling you, they started using it on DAY ONE. They used it ON THE DAILY.
It’s pretty much a LIVE DICTIONARY happening in our classroom. I alphabetized the posters (Apples to Winter) and then each word on the posters are alphabetized.
The best part for me, as a busy teacher with a life?
I can leave them up ALL YEAR LONG. Students can write about Christmas in May, if they want to, but I’m not scrambling around trying to take December words off the wall because it’s May. See?
Sometimes, I have a brain that works.
Now I feel like this wall is NOT wasted space and is exactly what my writing center needed.
And even though it’s not your typical Word Wall, it’s a WALL OF WORDS, wouldn’t you say?
I shrunk down my Writing Menu and hung it on the inside wall here (see the arrow?) so that I can still introduce each writing activity one at a time. I can’t share the Writing Menu posters with you. I’m sorry! 🙁 I took screenshots of the activities we use and some are activities that I purchased through TpT and the images are not mine.
Now, I’m not trying to sell you anything. But if you’re interested, I did create a pack with 30 posters. I only had room for 24 posters so I was picky about what I chose to hang up.
Anyways, I am super duper happy with how it all turned out!!!! 🙂 And I’m super duper excited to start the year with this Wall of Words.
So there you have it.
My word wall.
If you’re interested in the activities I include in the Writing Center, let me know. If I get enough requests, I can blog about it! 🙂
Would love more info. On writing center activities
I’d love to read about your writing center activities! Thanks
Definitley want more info. I am moving to third grade and want to keep some of my ideas and writing center supplies and just upgrade to,third. Love all your ideas.
Jennifer Ross says
I love the idea of making it a writing bank word wall! Mine are in folders that I have in a folder organizer for the month (lack of space….ugh!)
Diane Janes says
Yes please! A Writing Center activities blog post would be appreciated.
Laura Maxwell says
Thanks for this post! You wouldn’t believe the stress a word wall causes me! I am a veteran teacher and I have never used it as effectively as other teachers. Two years ago I had a professional disagreement with the Literacy Coach and was told that I had to have a word wall. I kept it up for 2 years. I took it down this spring and feel FREE! All that space opened up to post anchor charts, student work, etc. I cannot wait. Yee Ha!
Chelsea Robinette says
Do you have the pack of writing menu stuff in your store? With the stencil story and stuff too? Thanks!
Kathy Harold says
I would love this. It’s wonderful! I tried downloading many times, but I couldn’t get it to load.
(Now, I’m not trying to sell you anything. But if you’re interested, I did create a pack with 30 posters.) I was hoping this meant we could have these for free!
Oh, I’m sorry! No, they are in my TpT store. I just meant . . . don’t feel like you have to buy anything, but if you’re looking . . . I’m sorry for the confusion!!
Love the ideas– I am always looking for new ways to make writing exciting!
Kate Keenan says
I love your honesty (especially when it comes to open room evenings – we all do a mad dash to put up art etc as well ;-)). Thank you for sharing x
Are you considering writing more Reader’s Theater/ Partner Plays for second grade? Please:)
Are the Advanced plays too easy for your second graders?
Would definitely love information on you your writing center. Love the number cards and corresponding
I would love to hear more about your writing center activities! I love reading your blogs! They always make me laugh!
Lori Kaus says
Hysterical! I also had a folder of “clip art” from nearly 20 years ago. I may in fact still have it. Lol
You had me LOL the entire time. Great voice…
Great Word Wall.
Yes – THE BINDER OF CLIP ART WAS MY LIFE! 🙂
I would love more information on your writing center.
Would love to hear more about the writing center! Thanks
I would LOVE to read more about your writing center activities. Actually, I would love to read more of EVERYTHING you do in your classroom!! I adore you…did you know we’re BFF’s??!!
Seriously..thank you for your honesty, your awesome ideas, and for your passion to help other teachers!
BTW..I still laugh over your potty bucket. True story – I had to use mine during a lockdown and my first graders were not even aware that I was going potty!!!
Hello BFF!!! 🙂 I can’t believe you had to use the bucket AND THAT YOUR KIDS DIDN’T KNOW!! CRAZY TOWN USA!!!!
Thank you for this post and for all of your amazing inspiration and ideas! I would definitely appreciate a post on Writing Center activities! Thanks so much for all you do!
I’d love to read more about your writing center activities! 🙂
I love your blog because it’s all about keeping it real. You tell the truth and it’s relatable to me…sometimes I read other blogs and wonder what’s wrong with me…why was I at school the night before hanging up all those words that should have been up weeks ago. Maybe I’m not perfect, but my kids are learning big time…and isn’t that the point!! Thanks for the dose of reality!!
Awww! Thank you! We are all in this together! 🙂
Love this! I’m moving to kindergarten this year after 11 years in grade one. I feel like a traditional word wall will be wasted space there too! Added these posters to my wish list. Thanks for sharing!
Rhiannon Byrd says
This is fantastic! Any chance you have those writing posters (poem, recipe, postcard, etc) on your TPT? They are adorable!
Is it possible to link to the products you used in your writing centre? I have been looking for something like this forever!!!! Purchasing your word wall cards now too as they will be a great addition to my writing centre for many of my ESL students
I would love to know more about your writing activities!
“I wasn’t even dead yet!” …made me LOL
Love your word wall thoughts. I never find it useful in K either.